A Zimbabwean cookbook, written by local authors, recently won the 2023 Gourmand World Cookbook Award in Saudi Arabia.
The book scooped the best in the ‘cuisine of the future’ category, which recognised its innovative approach to food.
The cookbook titled: “Edible Insects: Food For The Future,” sheds light on the sustainable, nutritious, and environmentally friendly potential of incorporating edible insects into diets, highlighting its benefits and debunking its myths.
Through a combination of text, mouth-watering pictures, and recipes, the publication offers a unique guide to the traditions and flavours of the region and features traditional recipes, as well as tips from chefs and ingredients that can be used at home to create new recipes.
The 95-page book presents species like Mopane worms, ground crickets, mealworms, and edible bugs and also highlights that these insects can be used in a variety of dishes, such as cakes, pizza, and even sausages.
In an interview with The Herald Arts, co-author of the cookbook Chef Dulsie Fadzai Madekwa said edible insects have the potential to reduce poverty by meeting the demand for protein, without the need for more common sources
“By reintroducing edible insects we’re alleviating poverty by reducing the demand of the common protein sources,” she said.
“In Zimbabwe, a lot of people grew up eating edible insects but because of modernisation people have shunned away from our traditional insects in favour of meats like fish, chicken, and pork.”
Modernising traditional insect cuisines, Chef Dulsie said, was an important step towards improving consumer acceptance.
“Edible insects can be modernised, you know a lot of people if they see insects like edible bugs (harurwa) but if you grind them into meals you can now be able to make cakes out of it or bread out of it.
“In Zimbabwe and Africa, no one should go hungry because Africa is rich in resources but the only problem is that we have forgotten this rich African food and looked at the modern, western foods.”
Robert Musundire, another co-author of the cookbook and Associate Professor of Entomology at Chinhoyi University of Technology, believes that a new approach is needed to preserve Zimbabwe’s cultural and culinary traditions
“As the traditional insect consumers and gathers are becoming less due to old age and passing on of generations, a new pathway should be followed to preserve the culture from dying while making new imagination of future integration of insect based diets within the context of contemporary eating habits and food systems.”
Prof Musundire said reintroducing edible insects can play a role in improving food and nutrition security.
“Some edible insects have equivalent or more proteins than beef. I grew up in a rural area where sometimes people would consume sadza and salt, and that is very dangerous to children. We are saying edible insects are the other readily available alternative option in terms of nutrition, and we can improve food and nutrition security.”
The 95-page book also aims to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture in low-income countries.
Within its pages it also presents how edible insect farming can provide rural communities with an additional source of income and employment, contributing millions of dollars to the country’s GDP.
The authors hope that the accolade will bring global attention to local flavors.
Since 1995 the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards have been honouring the best gastronomy books, as well as food television productions.
Winners are selected in first place at a country level and then by an international jury that determines the Best in the World winners.